Braves are making Madison Bumgarner a “priority”

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Wanna feel what it’s like to have your brain explode? Then try this one on: Madison Bumgarner is younger than Stephen Strasburg.

I know, right? I re-learn that fact every year or two and still blows my dang mind.

Anyway, I mention that because Madison Bumgarner, like Strasburg, is a free agent, and yesterday NBC Sports California’s Alex Pavlovic reported that “[p]er league sources, the Braves have made Bumgarner a priority and planned to quickly communicate that to the left-hander.” Pavlovic characterizes the Braves as the “clear favorite” if Bumgarner decides to sign with a new team rather than ink a new deal with the Giants.

It’s a good fit at least on a superficial level. Bumgarner is a southern guy, hailing from North Carolina. For years people have joked that Bumgarner’s well-known habit of being the fun police with respect to opposing players celebrating is in keeping with the reputation the Braves have developed along those lines. I think it’s quite easy to overplay that kind of thing based on some isolated incidents, but there is at least a sense, based on what one can see of the Braves’ culture and Bumgarner’s temperament, that there’d be a good fit there.

More substantively, the Braves are currently a contender and the Giants are not so, if Bumgarner values playing for a winner more than the continuity and and comfort re-signing with the Giants might provide, it could inspire him to take his business across the country. For the Braves’ part, they could use another reliable starting pitcher and could certainly afford it.

And yeah, it’s weird to call Bumgarner merely “reliable” given that he has been one of the best in the game at times in his career. Over the past few seasons his ace-like status has taken a step or two back, however. He had a couple of freak, non-pitching-related injuries that shortened his 2017 and 2018 seasons and, in 2019, he posted his worst ERA+ in seven seasons. While he has given no indication that he’s tiring or breaking down due to all of the miles he’s put on his left arm over the past 11 seasons — his velocity and strikeout rates were up last season and he led the league in games started — the mileage is still there. He may be less of a number one starter than a number two guy now, at least on a contender.

But, obviously, there is a ton of value to what Bumgarner brings to the table. You have to figure that you can plug him into the rotation and expect 30+ starts and 200 innings, give or take, of above-average and occasionally great pitching. That’s a huge boon to any team, both for its own sake and for what a horse like he is can do to help preserve the bullpen arms in the heat of summer. And, quite obviously, the guy knows his way around the postseason.

The Braves are not, recently anyway, known for making the boldest of moves in the free agent market. But that could change pretty quickly based on this report.

New bill to build Athletics stadium on Las Vegas Strip caps Nevada’s cost at $380 million

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature would give the Oakland Athletics up to $380 million for a potential 30,000 seat, $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bulk of the public funding would come from $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in county bonds, which can vary based on interest rate returns. Clark County also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The A’s have been looking for a home to replace Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The team had sought to build a stadium in Fremont, San Jose and finally the Oakland waterfront, all ideas that never materialized.

The plan in the Nevada Legislature won’t directly raise taxes. It can move forward with a simply majority vote in the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have a little more than a week to consider the proposal before they adjourn June 5, though it could be voted on if a special session is called.

The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said he is disappointed the team didn’t negotiate with Oakland as a “true partner.”

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54. It would become the smallest TV market in Major League Baseball and the smallest market to be home to three major professional sports franchises.

The team and Las Vegas are hoping to draw from the nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city annually to help fill the stadium. The 30,000-seat capacity would make it the smallest MLB stadium.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when owners meet June 13-15 in New York.

The plan faces an uncertain path in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic leaders said financing bills, including for the A’s, may not go through if Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes the five budget bills, which he has threatened to do as many of his priorities have stalled or faded in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Under the bill, the Clark County Board of Commissioners would create a homelessness prevention and assistance fund along the stadium’s area in coordination with MLB and the Nevada Resort Association. There, they would manage funds for services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, job training, rehabilitation and counseling services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would be up for renewal after 30 years.

Nevada’s legislative leadership is reviewing the proposal, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said in a statement.

“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said.